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California Governor Signs Aggressive Climate Change Bill


California has raised its already ambitious green energy standard.

Governor Brown signed the measure on a hazy day in Los Angeles. He says the world needs to move past its reliance on fossil fuels.

"What has been the source of our prosperity now become the source of our ultimate destruction if we don’t get off it," Brown said. "And that is so difficult."

Under the new standard, California utilities must generate half their power from renewable sources by 2030. Over that same period, buildings in the state will need to double their energy efficiency.

Brown has taken a global role on climate change during his fourth term. The law comes two months before a world summit in Paris.

Many clean energy advocates are praising the new law, but rooftop solar companies are not among them. The energy produced by solar panels on top of homes largely does not count toward renewable requirements. Large-scale solar companies argued doing so would amount to a break for utilities, without helping the rooftop market.

"It doesn't make any sense. A renewable electron is a renewable electron," says Bryan Miller of company Sunrun. "California’s certainly the outlier in not even allowing it to count. So, it’s something we’ve asked for for years and the Legislature chose not to do that."

Miller says it's part of an attack against rooftop solar, the fastest-growing segment of the industry. The California Public Utilities Commission has held hearing this weeks about whether it should lower the rate utility's must pay rooftop solar owners for the energy that flows into the grid.

Industry analysts project rooftop solar will continue its rapid growth.

Other bills

Brown acted on 41 other bills, in addition to the renewable energy standard.

He approved a measure that suspends the high school exit exam as a graduation requirement through 2018.

Other bills classify cheerleading as a sport and prohibit most state contracts with companies that don’t offer equal benefits for transgender employees.

Brown vetoed eight bills, including one that would have required law enforcement agencies to hold public meetings before buying equipment from the military.